This week’s post is inspired by a few of our favourite local food heros. If you’ve ever visited Vancouver or live here, you know we’re some lucky folks home to a foodie meca of delightful cuisine. One of the best places to eat is Vikram and Meenu’s restaurants: Vij’s, Rangoli and the new Vij’s Railway Express food truck. These are a must eat at before you die kinda restaurants. Their food is unbelievably delicious and rated as one of Canada’s best restaurants. Where else can you go for both meatarian and vegetarian Indian cuisine that serves up nothing but “can I please have more”. Even waiting in line is fun when Vik brings you tasty samples to ward off the tummy grumbles.
But we don’t just love their food, we love their food philosophy. Both Meenu and Vikram showcase a love for cooking, eating and sharing food that makes us want to invite them into our homes for dinner. We like that they support local eating to the true sense by using traditional Indian spices and cooking techniques but with locally sourced meats, seafood and produce. Their cookbooks take the challenge out of cooking Indian and they inspire people to jump into the kitchen to make meals together. When my sister was living here, we enjoyed shopping, creating and eating Indian meals together. Vij’s cookbooks brought much inspiration in these kitchen endeavors. It was always such a delight and we still get together today to cook Indian food together. Here is one of my favourite Indian Summer Meals:
Tandoori Salmon with Cucumber Raiti & Sprout Salad
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup cucumber, grated (about half of a medium field cucumber – it’s important to use a regular field cucumber)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp ground pepper
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate Cucumber Raiti until ready to use.
Enjoy any leftover as a dip for vegetable, naan bread or pita. It’s also delicious as a dressing for salad.
1/2 cup quinoa – I like to use a mix of red and white quinoa.
1 cup lentil or mixed bean sprouts
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1/4 of a red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
Cook quinoa according to package directions. Or feel free to follow my instructions: combine quinoa and 3/4 cup of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff and cool to room temperature or chill in the refrigerator.
In a medium sized serving bowl, toss the quinoa, sprouts, vegetables, and cilantro together. Sprinkle with lemon zest and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Toss and season with salt to taste.
This salad is delicious on its own. I like to make a big batch on Sunday for my lunch over the next couple of days. It’s such a refreshing and light meal. It’s also delicious served with some of the Cucumber Raiti.
1-1/2 Tbsp tandoori spice mix
1 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil (if preferred, you can use water instead)
4 wild salmon fillets
In a small bowl, stir together tandoori spice and oil to make a paste. Using a pastry brush, brush tandoori paste onto salmon fillets.
Preheat barbecue to medium heat or oven to 350°F.
Grill salmon fillets for 4 minutes per side or bake for 8-10 minutes until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Serve grilled salmon with the Cucumber Raiti and Sprout Salad. The refreshing Cucumber Raiti will cool down the heat of the tandoori salmon.